The Ruderman Family Foundation has chosen five television shows to receive its Seal of Authentic Representation for their accurate depictions of people with disabilities, and General Hospital is one of the shows being honored. The ABC soap opera joins Netflix's Tales of the City and Raising Dion, BBC/HBO's Years and Years, and Audience's Loudermilk in the celebration.
A study by the foundation found that 95 percent of television characters with disabilities are played by able-bodied actors, and that is a number they hope to change.
"Given our belief that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing society, the Foundation's Seal of Authentic Representation is a simple, yet crucial and indispensable affirmation of those in the entertainment industry who put these values into action," says Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. "By giving credit where credit is due in Hollywood, we hope to inspire a broader, longer-term, industry-wide sea change when it comes to authentically casting actors of all abilities."
GH cast Maysoon Zayid in the recurring role of Shiloh's lawyer, Zahra Amir, in June of this year. The actress, who is also a disability advocate with cerebral palsy and one of America's first Muslim women comedians, says that landing her role on GH fulfilled a "lifelong dream," as she had found it difficult to land roles due to her disability.
Says Frank Valentini, executive producer of GH, "Our goal has always been to provide stories that are authentic and relatable for our viewers. Having the opportunity to welcome Maysoon Zayid onto the show was exciting for us. She is an incredible talent and was a perfect fit to guest star as Zahra Amir. It takes all kinds of people to tell a story; especially those that are rich and entertaining enough to resonate with our audience."
According to its official website, the Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community. The organization advocates for and advances the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society, operating as a non-partisan strategic catalyst in cooperation with government, private sectors, civil society, and philanthropies.
Earlier this year, the Ruderman Family Foundation awarded the Seal of Authentic Representation to Hulu's Ramy, the contemporary romantic drama This Close, feature films Give Me Liberty and The Peanut Butter Falcon, and Netflix's Stranger Things.
What do you think about GH being honored by the Ruderman Family Foundation for casting Maysoon Zayid in the role of Zahra Amir? What are your thoughts on films and television shows casting actors with real-life disabilities to play characters with disabilities? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.